FTC Issues Consumer Alert About New Car Warranties
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FTC Issues Consumer Alert About New Car Warranties

The FTC has issued a statement re-iterating to consumers that they can have the routine maintenance necessary to uphold their warranty done anywhere they like.

Earlier this year the FTC issued a consumer alert entitled “Auto Warranties, Routine Maintenance and Repair: Is Using the Dealer a Must?” that should interest any new car owners or anyone interested in purchasing a new car.

The alert spells out in no uncertain terms that consumers can take their vehicle wherever they like to have maintenance done and that the use of aftermarket parts is perfectly acceptable. An aftermarket part is one made by a company other than the original manufacturer. The alert states “… it’s illegal for a dealer to deny your warranty coverage simply because you had routine maintenance or repairs performed by someone else.”

The alert highlights the details of the Magnuson-Moss Act that was enacted in 1975 to protect consumers. Essentially the law says that no warranty can be issued with a condition that the manufacturer be used in the future. Everyone in the repair community is aware of this law, but not many consumers are, and car dealerships like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

The alert was released after a complaint was filed last August by three aftermarket repair organizations, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) and the Tire Industry Association (TIA). The complaint alleged that Honda had released a statement that intended to give vehicle owners the impression that in order to keep their new vehicle warranty intact they had to purchase and use only Genuine Honda Parts purchased through an authorized dealer, which is in violation of the Magnuson-Moss law.

“We are pleased that the FTC has put out valuable guidance to U.S. car owners regarding their rights under their new car warranties,” said AAIA president and CEO, Kathleen Schmatz. “Vehicle manufacturers like Honda continue to put out misleading information that confuses car owners as to their ability to choose where and with what parts their vehicle is serviced and still protect their new vehicle warranty. Most surveys have shown that absent the warranty, the vast majority of consumers choose the independent aftermarket based on quality, price and convenience; and this FTC Alert will ensure they will have the peace of mind to exercise that choice.”

In the alert the FTC also reminds consumers to thoroughly read their warranties so they know exactly what is covered and what is not and how long it is good for. They also recommend keeping up with all required maintenance and keeping meticulous records of all work that is done. Good maintenance records not only help you if you have a warranty issue, but they also add to the value of the car when you decide to sell it. A vehicle that has been meticulously maintained has a higher resale value.

The FTC is an independent government agency that maintains fair and free competition and enforces anti-trust laws.

Check out these articles about vehicle maintenance, why you shouldn't bring your car back to the dealership, and how to find a good mechanic.

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Comments (3)

Great information about aftermarket parts and warranties. Good to see the law working in behalf of car owners. :)

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